Growing Up, and Through, Young Motherhood
Becoming a mother opens a life-changing chapter in every new parent’s life. To celebrate Little Sisters who include “Mom” on their list of titles, jobs, and responsibilities this Mother’s Day, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO) spoke with two of its alumni Littles — Nikyra, 21; and Jada, 22 — for a glimpse into how motherhood shapes the day-to-day and the bigger picture.
How life’s different since becoming a mom
NIKYRA: Life revolves around him and what he has going on. I wake up on his time, so when it’s time to get up for him, it’s time to get up for me. (laughs)
I did some trade school while I was in high school, and got to intern at St. Joseph for a couple of months, working in different departments. So after graduating, I did some of my prerequisites [to become a nurse]… I worked and was in school when I got pregnant with him. I tried to go back this past year in October, but my mother got sick, so I had to put everything on hold once again.
Over the last year-and-a-half, my life has been difficult, but that’s kind of what happens when you are a single parent as well as a young mom. It was not part of my plan to be a single mother at all. But having a child… he gave me purpose to live, and carry on every day. He definitely is a big motivator for me.
JADA: It’s super, super, super busy. It technically just consists of her, especially since she’s so little. She’s still super tiny – she was only five pounds at birth, now she’s 10. And according to everybody, I give her too much (laughs). I hold her all the time, I kiss her all day long, I play with her and sometimes sing her to sleep. I also breastfeed, so that’s also a bonding thing.
I’m a patient caretaker at St. Anthony’s, so before she came, I just worked a lot, and I had fun and would go out with friends. I haven’t done that in a long time! (laughs) I’m also in the military, in the Army National Guard – it’ll be six years in August – so I did that, too.
On motherhood’s realities
JADA: Babies are everything. But at the same time, they are hard work and require a lot of attention. You need to make sure you’re financially stable, for one; and that you have the time for it. I’m fine financially – I’m on maternity leave, so I don’t make as much as if I were at work… I would be better off if I was still with my child’s father. I tell everybody, before you have a baby, please make sure you’re married! (laughs) But it’s not just that… I just wish I had more help with her.
NIKYRA: When you’re pregnant, everyone’s like, “I can’t wait ‘til the baby gets here!” and “Let me babysit!” My mom got sick over this past year, so I had to quit three jobs to take care of my mother. When I’ve called those people for help watching my son so I can go to my mom’s treatments and stuff, they don’t keep their word.
When you become a mom, people around you don’t always understand what it is to become a mother – that your life revolves around your kid, and everything you do is for your kid. I’ve lost a lot of friends because of me putting my child first. That’s been a real eye-opener to me – who is in my corner, and who’s not.
On managing life as a young mom and an individual
NIKYRA: I love that I was able to participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters. I’ve been with the agency since I was six or seven and I’m 21 years old now, and it shaped me into a really good person, especially having the Big Sister that I had. She helped me in so many ways. I just spoke with her earlier this week; we went over to her house so our kids could play. And she actually let me stay with her when I was pregnant because I was homeless for a little bit when I was carrying my child. She let me move in with her until I was able to get my own place.
Tashanna [Rucker, Senior Director of Big Futures at BBBSEMO] was definitely a huge help whenever I would reach out to her… and the agency was a big help.
JADA: My Big Sister, who I’ve been matched with since I was 6 years old, didn’t want me to be pregnant right at the time I was. But when I told her I was having a baby, she literally got everything for me through her friends at work and stuff like that. And she was always supportive with all my decisions… she was always someone to talk to. And since I had my daughter, she’s let me come over to spend the night – she has a bedroom just for me – and she’ll keep Ava through the night so I can get some sleep. She also washes all the clothes that pile up because I’m so busy with the baby.
How being a mother affects outlook, especially on the future
NIKYRA: Seeing my son every day is a motivator to do better, and strive for the best I can for him. I’ve got to set a solid foundation for him. I want him to have a firmer foundation than I had.
JADA: Since I lost my mom and my dad, I never really had anything to look forward to. I never really celebrated holidays after my parents died… and I really hated Mother’s Day. But now I’m really looking forward to Mother’s Day, and I’m super excited about other holidays.
Even when I was pregnant, I feel like she just gave me better drive. I’m going to push even harder now that she’s here. Before, I wanted to be an RN (registered nurse), but now I want to be a pediatrician. I want to give her the best life I can.
About Big Futures
Designed to support Littles’ transitionto life after high school, Big Futures staff work directly with “alumni Littles” from age 18 through age 25. The program offers guidance and resource connections to empower young people to own their future through education in college or trade school, enlistment in the military, and/or employment at a living wage. BBBSEMO Big Futures staff partner actively with parents, Bigs, and other mentors to help with planning and serve as advocates.
For more information about Big Futures, contact Senior Director Tashanna Rucker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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